Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Simon & Garfunkel - Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.

Album: Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Release: October 19, 1964

Perhaps the greatest gift an artist can give us is the gift of music.  I don't necessarily mean their own music (although, that is a precious gift to be sure), but the music that inspires them.  The music they listen to.  It not only gives us something new (and possibly awesome) to listen to; it also gives us some insight into where they're coming from as musicians. 

So you have to love it when you go to a live show expecting to hear that artist's music and then he gives you 3 other (classic) artists' music too!!  And that's exactly what happened at the last show I went to.  That's how my interest in Simon and Garfunkel was stirred.  They (him and him) did an amazing acoustic version of "The Boxer" that inspired me to go find the original and partake in the awesome.  I was so blown away by it that I've decided to start at the beginning and take the full Simon and Garfunkel trip.  I've been a fan of "You Can Call Me Al" by Paul Simon forever (love, love, love that little bass line in the middle) - but this music is much, MUCH different from that.

Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was their debut album which, thanks in large part to at little band called The Beatles busting out in the U.S. at about the same time, saw little commercial success.  It took a couple years for people to really come around to appreciating their music (seems like that happens to some of the best albums).  This one is kind of a mix of gospel and folk music.  Personally, I could do without the gospel-feeling songs being as I don't exactly believe in them and therefore am not really inspired by them.  But I have to admit, there is something simply hypnotic about "Benedictus".  It kind of makes me wish that I wanted to go to church. 

This is not one of those albums (and "The Boxer" is not one of those I think it might be a Simon and Garfunkel thing) that you can listen to in passing and really appreciate it.  You can't let it bounce off of you, you have to let it soak in.  Ear buds and dark rooms were made for this kind of music.  Listening to this record felt like having my head underwater in a hot bathtub.  The music and the vocals come together to just fill up all the spaces.  I'm not sure everyone on earth would love this record, but I should think that everyone could at least appreciate the raw talent and brilliance that was involved in creating this sound 48 years ago.

I thought I would have to approach this album with my mind full of the social climate in 1964 in order to really appreciate it.  But as I laid in bed last night listening to it, I realized that perhaps the world we live in now is not so different from the one these songs were written in.

"He Was My Brother", a song about a soldier lost in war could easily be written today.  And if this song doesn't make you break out in cold chills then you need to check your pulse.  Another timely tune on this record is "The Sound of Silence".  Even if you think you don't know any Simon and Garfunkel, you know this song.  It's the one that starts out, "Hello, Darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk with you again."  It's a beautiful song.  They're all beautiful songs.  Paul Simon's songwriting is genius and Art Garfunkel's voice is enchanting and together, it's just magic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Current Addiction

This song was wrapped in an amazing bow (in the form of Matt Nathanson and Aaron Tap) and given to me as a gift November 5th at The Cannery Ballroom.  My packaging isn't as awesome, but here it is for you:


Monday, November 28, 2011

I Thought of Another One!!

If any of you own the Matt Nathanson album At The Point then I am sure you are fully aware of his cover of Drivin' and Cryin's "Straight to Hell".  Before I owned this record, I had never heard the song.  In the interest of comparison, I went in search of it.  Holy crap - what a stinker!  I would rather paper cut the web between my thumb and first finger than hear the original version of this song.  Blech.

Here, give it a listen:

Now what made Matt Nathanson listen to that song and think, "I want to sing that - it'll be awesome!"??  But, believe it or not - he did it!  And it sounds awesome.  It's a great song when he sings it (so, yeah, it was probably a great song before he sang it, I just couldn't hear it that way).

For comparison:

See??  So much more wonderful.

I Tried To Fight It

Have you all heard this new Jessie J. song "Domino"?  I tried to fight this song, I really did.  Between the opening line "I'm feeling sexy and free" and the jewels glued under her eyes in the video, I was certain I would never like it.  It is all so a doll in a package. 

But, when the powers-that-be at VH1 want you to listen to a song and want it embedded in your brain, you are by-god going to listen to it.  Those bastards.  And now, just like they intended, this song is stuck in my head. 

It's definitely a pre-packaged pop song of the first order, but I don't hate it (anymore). It's kind of catchy, I even kind of like the first line and you have to admit (eye-jewels aside) her hair is super cute in the video.   However, that being said, I'm not sure I can ever forgive her for her part in co-writing "Party in the U.S.A." which was played on the radio so much this summer that I accidentally heard Miley Cyrus "sing" a couple times.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Scars on 45 - Give Me Something

Album: Give Me Something - EP
Artist: Scars on 45
Release: January, 2011

So I took the advice of "Anonymous" (who, I'm fairly certain is closely related to "They") and bought Scars on 45's first EP Give Me Something.  "Anonymous" said that it was far better than Heart on Fire so for that reason, I should check it out.

I have to respectfully disagree.  I'm not saying it's bad, not by any means.  In fact, it is really growing on me.  I didn't instantly like it as much as I did Heart on Fire, but the more I listen to it, the more I like it.   These are just really good songs sung by people who have genuinely good voices (I've seen them live at a small venue where there is nowhere to hide, so you can belive me when I say that).  There is also an acoustic song ("Don't Say") on this one which is always a good way to get a feel for a band because you can hear what they really sound like.  This one is particularly nice because it features the beautiful harmonies that happen when Danny Bemrose and Aimee Driver sing together. 

Once again, all four songs sound different, which showcases the band's diversity.  Still, they all somehow sound like Scars on 45.  It's a special treat when you find a band that understands that having a "sound" doesn't mean that all of your songs have to sound the same.  For me, the only thing missing on Give Me Something is Aimee.  She is almost like a backup singer on this one, rather than a co-lead singer.  She has a  really beautiful voice, so I'm glad they feature her more on Heart on Fire.

Overall, I'm really liking Give Me Something, but I still don't think it's better than the second release.  I like that though because you can track the development of the band between the two releases, and that's always cool to witness.  After hearing some more from them, I hope they come close soon as I would really like to see them live again.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Video Watching

In an effort to clear out some of our DVRed stuff, I watched a couple episodes of 120 Minutes with Matt Pinfield the other night and I saw a couple things worthy of mention.

First, "First of the Year (Equinox)" by Skrillex.  Have you heard this song?  If not, don't bother, it's pretty awful.  It's like a traffic jam in my eardrums, just noise and chaos.  Not only is it noise, it's offensive noise.  I actually muted the TV about 3/4 of the way thru it because I couldn't even tolerate it.  I watched it though because the video is fucking awesome.  I highly recommend you watch it.  The little girl is freaky as hell. 

I also finally got a good listen to Mutemath's "Blood Pressure".  I'm really digging on this song right now.  The video, well, it looks like a lot of work.  It looks like it took forever to film and probably ten times as long to edit - I can appreciate that.  But I hate it.  It's seizure inducing!  And it's distracting as hell.  I had to close my eyes and block out the video in order to really hear the song.  And it's a good song, they shouldn't hide it behind all that visual racket.

"The Sound of Winter" by Bush was played on there too.  Such a good Bush song.  And Gavin Rossdale is even better looking these days.  How awesome is it that he and Gwen Stefani are still together?  So sweet.

This morning, VH1 let me down and played some crap I couldn't stand (probably Brittany Spears...I don't remember) so I flipped over to AMTV and caught the new Hot Chelle Rae song "I Like It Like That".  It isn't nearly as good as "Tonight, Tonight" is (which, by the way, is not a remake of the totally awesome Smashing Pumpkins song of the same name).  I also question the wisdom of releasing what totally feels like a summer party song the end of November.  But perhaps that's all Hot Chelle Rae has to offer us?

Tonight, I just witnessed Fall Out Boy's version of "Beat It" (or as some of you might know it...Cheetah Penis*).  Good grief.  Look, it's simple, if you're not Michael Jackson, don't record his songs.  Just don't.

*If you don't get the cheetah penis reference, do yourself a favor and go buy Matt Nathanson's "At The Point".

Friday, November 25, 2011

Who Did It Better?

As you may or may not know, Matt Nathanson is somewhat known for doing covers during his shows.  He often works other songs into the middle his own stuff, or uses them as intros to his songs (he frequently leads into his *perfect* song 'Pretty the World' with Florence + the Machine's *less than perfect* 'Dog Days').  The amazing part about this is that his covers are always just as good and sometimes even better than the original. That is a rare thing. 

A perfect example is his version of 'Alison' by Elvis Costello:

The orginal:

See?  Totally better, right??

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Evil Sampling - Gone Right!

I hate sampling.  For years, there hasn't been a good song out there that contained any amount of sampling.  If you want to cover a song, cover the damn thing, don't butcher it.  Don't pick it apart and turn it into something it was never supposed to be. 

Unless, evidently, you're Train.  Apparently if you're Train, you can pick apart a classic, a song I love, and rearrange it and put it back together Frankenstein-style and still not make me hate you.  In fact, I might even like it a little bit, in spite of myself.  (or, in spite of "my elf" as I typed it 4 times before getting the s in there).

You see, on their latest album "Save Me, San Francisco", which we all know I'm not in love with, they sampled/covered a great song.  When I first heard the intro to this song, I actually paused it.  I was so scared of how bad it was going to suck and how mad it was going to make me that I had to take a minute to forgive Train their trespasses.  However...check it:

It doesn't suck at all!  Sure, it's no Doobie Brothers, but Pat sings the hell out of it.  In fact, I like what they've done with 'Black Water' better than I like the original parts of the song.  Go figure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Angry Songs

Because I am in a terrifically crappy mood today (Happy Holidays, my ass), I thought I'd make of list of my top ten angry songs.  So just in case you are loving this time of year too, here is a little play list for us to share:

10. You Oughta Know - Alanis Morisette - Jagged Little Pill
      This was Alanis at her angry, angsty best.  The song doesn't fit all aggravations, but it is fun to sing loud when you're just pissed.

9. Crazy Bitch - Buck Cherry - 15
     Probably not really a great song in general, but any song with "fuck" in it 13 times is good on a bad day.

8. Stupify - Disturbed - The Sickness
    Really, almost any Disturbed song would fit here - it was a toss up.

7. Keep Away - Godsmack - Keep Away
    How fun is this one to scream??

6. Freak on a Leash - Korn - Follow the Leader
    I dig this song in any mood, but especially love it when I'm irked.

5. One Step Closer - Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory
    "One step closer to the edge, and I'm about to break!!!!" - what more can I say?

4. Ain't My Bitch - Metallica - Load
    Obviously, heavy metal (although, it is a bit of a stretch to call Load "heavy") is written by angry people - thank goodness!!

3. Last Resort - Papa Roach - Infest
    "Do you even care if I die bleeding?" - perfect angry lyrics.

2. Fuck You - Cee Lo Green - The Lady Killer
    This one needs no explanation.

1. Killing in the Name - Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
    If you don't own this song (in fact, the whole album) and crank it up every so often...then there is just no help for you.

I'm sure I missed some - any suggestions?

Maybe soon I'll post a "songs to cheer you up" list!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More "New" Music, A Gift for Me

After someone inquired about my red vinyl copy of "Modern Love" recently, I did some looking around and found that not everyone who bought one got a red see-thru copy like mine.  So, because I'm a nerd like that, I have ordered myself another copy.  If this one is red too, then sweet, I'll get to watch the beautiful red vinyl spin on the turntable.  If not, then I'll play the black one and hide the red one away for safe keeping!  I would love to someday have the red copy signed (the cover, not the vinyl), we'll see if I can ever make that happen.  Oddly enough, even though I already own a copy, I'm still excited to get this one in the mail.  I wish I could go to an actual record store and flip through the stacks until I found it and buy it (there is just something cool about that), but nobody around here is carrying "Modern Love" on vinyl, so I have to click-and-wait.

This morning, while doing my usual VH1 and cereal routine, they played "Run Away Train" by Soul Asylum!  It's not even my birthday or anything!  I can't even count the ways in which I loved that song when it was new (and for about, oh, 3 years after it was new), but somehow I had never seen the video.  I'm guessing that was because we didn't have any music channels (or weren't allowed to watch them, I'm not 100% certain which), so the only videos I ever saw were at friends' houses or on Night Tracks on TBS - which, sadly was no longer on the air by the time 'Run Away Train' came out.  So I got to see the video this morning and that was cool, and only 17 years late.

Speaking of Night Tracks - did you ever watch show?  (Are you old enough to know what I'm talking about?) My dad used to let me record it (yes, on VHS...can you believe it??) and I would wear those tapes out.  My favorite episode had 'Dead or Alive' by Bon Jovi, 'One' by Metallica, and 'Fire Woman' by The Cult.  Man, that was awesome.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Vinyl District

If you aren't spending all of your free online time over at Vinyl District then what is your problem??  If you're like me, it is only because you didn't know it was there and now that I've enlightened you, you'll change your evil ways.

Earlier today I was followed by @Rachelanthecity over on twitter.  What possessed her to follow me?  I have no idea.  She (Rachel Hurley) has a very impressive resume both online and irl, so I'm glad to have her, no matter what level of insanity brought her.  Also, she is the editor of The Vinyl District - Memphis, so I was introduced to it through her profile.  I fucking love this website!!

There are interviews, articles, reviews, everything you could ask for.  And the best part is that it focuses on independent artists that aren't getting a lot of press elsewhere.  There is no way you could visit this site and not find at least one new artist to check out, every day.  Plus, there are several different cities represented, so no matter where you live, there is a Vinyl District for a city within driving distance of you.  Well, I guess that depends on what you consider driving distance for an awesome live show.  I focus on Nashville and Memphis, the former being about 2 1/2 hours from me and totally doable for an awesome night out.  But it's fun to check out what's going on other cities too and what artists are making noise there. 

Check it out, you'll thank me. 

Backstage Riders

Have you seen this list of backstage riders over at The Smoking Gun?

If not, you should check them out.  Who knows if they're real, but some of them are really hilarious.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Train - "Save Me, San Francisco"

Album: Save Me, San Francisco
Artist: Train
Release: October 27, 2009

I would like to preface this post by saying that I love Train.  I love them.  I've seen them twice in concert, I loved Pat Monahan's solo album, I loved their live album.  What I'm saying is, I'm a fan. 

But, and this is a big but, I'm not in love with this album.  In fact, there are parts of it I don't even like. Still, one of my favorite Train songs ever is on "Save Me, San Francisco", so I have to at least rate it as "like it". 

"Save Me, San Francisco" was released almost four years after "For Me, It's You" which has been called a commercial failure.  Personally, I thought it was a much better record, but what do I know?  Apparently they considered breaking up after that one, and Pat did a solo record, but they got back together (thank goodness!) which I thought was a wonderful thing.  Then they released this record.  Bah.

The first single, 'Hey, Soul Sister' does sound like classic Train, I'll give it that.  But the radio stations around here ran that thing into the ground so badly that by the time we saw them perform it live, my sister and I actually looked at each other and rolled our eyes.  We're that sick of it.  It's not a bad song, but it is not one I want to hear over and over and over. 

The next single was, 'If It's Love".  Ugh.  My least favorite Train song ever.  It is hugely popular and goes over great when they perform it live.  But I just don't get that. This one feels to me like they were just phoning it in big time.  I have come to expect so much more from them, lyrically, over the years.  I mean, "Can't be a bee without a bee throne"?  Are you fucking kidding me?  The same guys who brought us lines like "What am I gonna do without you?  What am I gonna do about you?" ('Your Every Color' - "My Private Nation") expect me to take lyrics like "We can travel to Spain where the rain falls mainly on the plain, sounds insane cause it is, we can laugh, we can sing, have 10 kids and give them everything" that fit awkwardly in the music and just be cool with it??  Frankly, I'm kind of insulted.

But, not to be a total downer, this record also contains 'Parachute', which is a really great love song.  And also 'Half Moon Bay' which is one of my favorite Train songs ever.  It is very sweet and upbeat and just fun to listen to and sing along with.  Lines like "This ain't a threat but I think I better warn ya, you're gonna fall in love if you go to California" are clever and well constructed.  It's a good song. 

Overall, if you're not familiar with Train (shame on you!!) don't start here.  I just think they're better than this.  I would recommend starting with "My Private Nation", it is a great record, then go back to "Train" and "Drops of Jupiter" to see where they came from.  Then once you appreciate them at their best, you can give this one a listen and enjoy the high points, and overlook the "meh" points.  Myself, I can forgive them this one because I love them and they have done enough incredible music that I know it is just a fluke.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Inspired By or Stolen From?

So the other morning I was innocently eating my cereal watching VH1, hoping against hope that they would come to their senses and play 'Faster' for me.  No such luck.  They did, however, play this new song by Sara Bareilles, 'Gonna Get Over You'.  Have you heard this one?

It's just a peppy little pop ditty.  Frankly, nothing special, except for this one line, "I'll be alright, just not tonight."  Clever, huh? familiar?

Yeah, so, a couple years ago this guy named Rob Thomas (you might know him from this band he sings for sometimes, Matchbox Twenty) released a solo album called "Cradlesong".  It is a beautifully crafted hour of music.  Really a great record.  The lead single from "Cradlesong" was a song about his wife called 'Her Diamonds'.  In that song, he sings, "She'll be alright, just not tonight." 

Coincidence?  Personally, I think not.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Play List Wisdom

The night before last, I made myself a little mixed tape to bring to work to listen to (and by that I mean that I created a play list in iTunes and burned it to a CD, of course).  Here it is:

1. U.R.A. Fever - The Kills - Midnight Boom
2. Curve of the Earth - Matt Nathanson - Beneath These Fireworks
3. Sour Cherry - The Kills - Midnight Boom
4. White Blank Page - Mumford & Sons - Sign No More
5. More Than This - Matt Nathanson - At The Point
6. Snowblind - Rob Thomas - Cradlesong
7. Airplanes - B.O.B. featuring Hayley Williams - Airplanes
8. Pretty the World - Matt Nathanson - Beneath These Fireworks
9. Fire On The Mountain - Rob Thomas - Cradlesong
10. Bottom of the Sea - Matt Nathanson - Modern Love
11. Mockingbird - Rob Thomas - Cradlesong
12. Don't Come Around Here No More - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Greatest Hits
13. Princess - Matt Nathanson - When Everything Meant Everything
14. Getting Late - Rob Thomas - Cradlesong
15. Faster - Matt Nathanson - Modern Love
16. Sleep Til The War Is Over - Rob Thomas - Cradlesong
17. Bed of Lies - Matchbox Twenty - Mad Season
18. Until I Fall Away - Gin Blossoms - New Miserable Experience
19. Drop To Hold You - Matt Nathanson - Modern Love
20. Losing My Mind - Maroon 5 - The B-Sides Collection

So now that I'm on day 2 of this CD, I've determined a couple things about my mad play list making skills. 

First, putting 'Curve of the Earth' between two The Kills songs was pure genius, my ears delight in the juxtaposition. However, following that up with Mumford & Sons was a bad move.  Also, B.O.B. should not ever be wedged between Rob Thomas & Matt Nathanson.

After the awesomeness that is contained in this play list, 'Losing My Mind' (which I love when listening to other Maroon 5) just sounds like a mess.  And 'Don't Come Around Here No More' needs to be turned up louder than is appropriate at work to really be enjoyed.

I have also determined that while Matt Nathanson is the protein of every play list I create lately, Rob Thomas is clearly the side dish and everything else is just seasoning.

Finally, I'm glad that I'm not responsible for creating the sequence of any album, ever.  I would never settle on a "correct" order.  I have multiple play lists on my iPod of the same songs in different orders, or just adding 1 song that will make the list *perfect* or removing a song that was messing it up and I still end up shuffling half the time.  In the end, it all just heightens my respect for these artists because just listening to the whole albums, the way they were given to us, is almost always the best way to hear these songs.

Bush - 'Sound of Winter'

It dawned on me the other day that I neglected Bush's new release in the retro post.  This song is classic Bush, but brand new.  I love it.  Gavin Rossdale's voice is still just as magical as it was 17 years ago and my heart still dances like I'm 16 when I hear it.  Enjoy.

'Sound of Winter' (2011)

And for a little nostalgia - 'Comedown' (1994)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Scars on 45 - Heart on Fire

Album: Heart on Fire - EP
Artist: Scars on 45
Release: October 24, 2011

I finally got Scars on 45's new release Heart on Fire EP tonight.  Apparently their song was featured on Grey's Anatomy, but I never watched that show so when I saw them open for Matt Nathanson (there's that guy again) a couple weeks ago, that was the first I had heard of them.  Even though I couldn't sing along, their set was fun and I looked forward to getting to know their music better.  So far, I'm on listen number 4 and I'm really enjoying it.  Of course, having already heard them performed live I have an instant affinity for these songs.

It really isn't logical for me to like them since I'm not usually a fan of bands with multiple lead singers and I have very few female singers in my collection.  However, these two both have really good voices and they harmonize beautifully, so I'm just going with it.  Right off, my favorite part is the fact that you can really hear Danny Bemrose's English (or British...which is right?) accent (particularly on "Heart on Fire") when he sings, which is rare.  That's another thing I enjoy, like the breathing thing, I can't explain it, I just like it. 

This Heart on Fire EP is only 4 songs long and I'm not sure that's enough for me to really get to know this band.  That being said, each of the songs is unique, so there is a good sampling here of what they have to offer.  "Heart on Fire" is a big, full love song full of longing and genuine emotion (especially when performed live).  It is followed up by "Tomorrow Won't Die Too Soon" which does a really nice job of featuring both voices. 

I think my favorite of the four is "Two-Way Radio".  A tasty little tune about two people getting through the hard times and getting back to a good place.  With lines like, "They can take what they want, you're my only obsession now," you cannot deny this song.  The final track, "Promises & Empty Words" features the female singer, Aimee Driver's soft melodic voice.  In it, when she sings, "I'll never hear another lie fall out of your mouth...why should I be the one to give this everything?" who can't relate to that?

This collection of songs is driven by an insistent drum beat and well-crafted harmonies that make you want to keep listening and really should appeal to just about everyone.  While the gentle melodies don't inspire me to dance around (although, they did when I heard them live), I definitely look forward to knowing the words so I can sing along!  The only thing stopping me from loving this collection is time, but I'm pretty sure after I've had time to get attached to it, it will fall in the "love it" category.

Violent Femmes - "Violent Femmes"

Album: Violent Femmes
Artist: Violent Femmes
Release: April 1983

I am, admittedly, a late bloomer (very late, perhaps) to the Violent Femmes scene.  Of course, I was familiar with 'Add It Up' and 'Blister in the Sun', but that was pretty much the extent of it.  After having 'Blister in the Sun' implanted in my head at a recent live show, I finally bought it.  I wore it out for a few days and then broke down and bought the whole album.  Wow.

I fucking love this record.  It is so...out there.  This is a perfect example of the good kind of unexpected.   I never know where Gordon Gano is going with the lyrics, or the vocals for that matter, but it is always somewhere good.  The music is almost like a lighter version of punk and there are some awesome lyrics on this record.  This would be a great summer time record - it is perfect windows-down-driving-fast music.  It just makes me want to dance.

Right now I'm hung up on 'Kiss Off', the second song.  (When I say "hung up", I mean I listened to it 5 times in a row on the way to work this morning, completely forsaking Matt Nathanson - but I'm listening to him right now to make up for it).  Honestly though, there isn't a bad song on this one, they are all catchy and quirky and fun to listen to.  If you're not familiar with them, I would start with 'Blister in the Sun'.  It is probably the most, um, user friendly song on the record.  Its possibly more palatable to people who maybe aren't into music that is quite as off-beat as this than, say, 'Add It Up'. 

Although they came along after the punk movement, Violent Femmes feel like pioneers in angst.  Every song is fraught with longing.  He wants everything from "someone to talk to" ('Kiss Off') to "just one fuck" ('Add It Up') and you get the feeling that no matter what he gets, there is still going to be a yearning for more.  Which makes great music.  The awesome thing about this record is that even with all the heartbreak and misery, it's not a downer.  Instead of making you sad about the things that suck, it makes you want to scream them at the top of your lungs and get even for the wrongs that have been done to you.  "You can all just kiss off into the air, behind my back I can see them stare, they hurt me bad, but I won't mind, they hurt me bad, they do it all the time!" - 'Kiss Off'

I'm hoping this one is still available on vinyl (or that I can find it) because it is exactly the kind of record you want to experience all the way through, not in little digital bites.  Every song stands alone, but together, this record is greater than the sum of its parts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This is gonna suck

I'm about to watch an interview with Axl Rose on That Metal Show.  I'm pretty sure this is going to be almost as painful as listening to Chinese Democracy...or a root canal.

Appetite for Destruction

Appetite and feathered hair?  WTF?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Lyrics Are Essential

You know how I'm always saying that so-and-so's* lyric's are perfect?  They aren't awkward or weird or forced, they just flow naturally?  Well, I have found of a perfect example of lyrics that are the exact opposite of that, just so you'll know what I mean.

Have you heard this relatively new Dawes song, 'Time Spent in Los Angeles'?  Personally, I don't like it, it's too whiny and sounds out of tune to me.  But, my biggest problem is this one line in the song.  This one awkward, weird, wrong line.  The rest of the song could be the greatest thing ever and I would still cringe when I hear it.

So what he sings is: "I always thought someone would love me, for the places I have been, and the dirt, that I've been gathering, deep beneath my nails."

ARGH!!!!  It just makes me uncomfortable to hear it.  My ears don't expect it, it just doesn't go.  And not in that good unexpected kind of way either.

What I want him to sing is: "I always thought someone would love me, for the places I have been, and the dirt, that I've been gathering, underneath my skin." 

Isn't that just better??

Also, another one that kills me (in a bad way) is 'Love and Understanding' by Cher.  She says, over and over, "The one thing there's just not enough of is love and understanding."  THAT'S TWO THINGS!!!!

I really like that song, but I literally deleted it off my iPod and out of iTunes all together because of that line.

*of course you know I mean Matt Nathanson, but I promised not to talk about him anymore (for a while) so I'm not going to

Monday, November 14, 2011

Travie McCoy "Lazarus"

Album: Lazarus
Artist: Travie McCoy
Release: June 8, 2010

On the eve of Gym Class Heroes' new release "Papercut Chronicles II", I thought I would bring you the lead singer Travie McCoy's solo offering, "Lazarus".  You may not think you know who Travie McCoy is, but believe me, you do.  Unless you live under a rock, you were exposed to his massively popular duet with Bruno Mars, 'Billionaire' this summer. (Wow, that sentence tried to sound dirty...) That song was freaking everywhere, and rightfully so, it is catchy as hell.  Co-written by Travie, presumably back when he was broke, it was the lead single off "Lazarus".  I was addicted to this song over the summer, so I grabbed this album when it was still hot off the presses. 

"Lazarus" (which, incidentally, is Travie McCoy's middle name) features enough collaborations and features that it doesn't really feel like a solo album.  It really feels more like someone recorded a jam session among a bunch of friends, which is cool.  'Need You', the second single, is one of the few times that it feels like we're really hearing him, and not just another party anthem.  In it, he asks for time to repair the damage done by some other heartless wench so he can be the man this new girl wants him to be.  It is really a love song, but from the perspective of a broken person who really wants to have another go at it.

Another genuine moment is 'The Manual' which features T. Pain & Young Cash.  With lines like, "My faith got misplaced, between who I was before and the dude you think you know" you understand that he's trying to figure out how to marry the real person and the stage persona. To some extent, we can all relate to this song - how to we co-mingle the people we are inside with the people our friends, family and bosses need and expect us to be?  Somehow, this song seems heartfelt even though the chorus is lost is auto-tune hell.

The rest of the album is pretty much just a collection of songs that make you want to roll the windows down, turn the radio up and drive way too fast.  My favorite of these is by far 'Dr. Feel Good' which features Cee Lo Green (of 'Fuck You' and Gnarls Barkley fame). And no, it is not a remake of the Motley Crue song as I originally feared/hoped when I saw the title of it.  'Superbad' is also an awesome tune.

My only problems with the record are 'Akidagain' and 'Don't Pretend'.  The first, well, I just don't like it.  The verses are alright, but the chorus just grates on my very last nerve. It is little kids singing it (or is made to sound like little kids...whatever), either way, it doesn't make sense.  They ARE kids, why would they be singing about being a kid again?  And furthermore, the sound of children singing is just unpleasant.  Yuck.  And as for 'Don't Pretend', somehow it just reminds me way too much of Biz Markie's 'Just a Friend' for me to really get into it. 

Overall, I like this record, I really do.  There are a couple songs that I skip, but there are also a few that I repeat...again and again.  I like it enough that I'm looking forward to seeing what Travie and Gym Class Heroes are going to give us tomorrow.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sugarland and Matt Nathanson "Run" the CMA's

I know, I know, I said I would stop talking about him, but it just dawned on me that I hadn't mentioned Matt Nathanson's duet with Sugarland on the CMA's last Wednesday.  Here's video, in case you missed it:

In general, I'm not a country music fan.  I like Sugarland (mostly because Jennifer Nettles can flat sing the shit out of anything), but I really do not like Lady Antebellum and I just get sick of hearing about trucks and beer and field parties after a while. However, I put all that aside and watched the CMA's Wednesday night to catch this performance.  Turns out they put on a really good show, much better than almost any rock awards show I've ever seen in fact.

Granted, Matt seems to be a little unsure of what to do when he's not performing with his guitar in front of his mic, but he rocked that song, as did Jennifer. "Run" is their duet that appears on "Modern Love". 

Not only did they perform the song beautifully, but our own Mr. Nathanson increased the nose ring population of the room by 100%, which is fucking awesome. 

Matt Nathanson - Beneath These Fireworks

Album: Beneath These Fireworks
Artist: Matt Nathanson
Release: October 14, 2003

Ok, I'm going to go ahead and talk about Beneath These Fireworks and get it out of my system.  I feel like this is turning into The Matt Nathanson Blog, but that is so all I've listened to lately that it's not even funny.  I still have At The Point and the SXSW EP to review, but I can hold off on those. As you know, I got some Violent Femmes yesterday, so that's adding some variety to my play list.  For now though, still mostly jammin' to Mr. Nathanson.

So, Beneath These Fireworks.  This was his major label debut, but he had released 5 independent albums prior to this one.  Some sources say that he was dropped from Universal; I've also read that he didn't dig the "label scene" and got out of his contract just as this album was released.  Either way, they parted ways (huge mistake on the part of Universal) so the label didn't push this record and it just kind of slid in under the radar.  That, my friends, is a miscarriage of justice because this record is a beautiful thing.  I hesitate to say I love it more than Modern Love (and I've already said that record is perfect, so...) but I love it different.  It is an entirely different animal with only his mad lyrical skills and warm honey voice tying them together.  Plus, my current favorite song of his is on this record, so I have to love it, right??

Because of the label affiliation (and Matt's overall awesomeness) this record is littered with a who's who of musicians.  It features people like Jamie Muhoberac on keyboards, a studio musician who has played with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.  Matt Fish (who Matt Nathanson toured with) plays cello on it and Emm Gryner sings backup on "Sing Me Sweet".  The coolest addition for me is Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket singing backup vocals on "Pretty the World" and "Sad Songs".  How cool is that??  (Don't know Toad the Wet Sprocket??  Hurry, go buy their album Fear, listen to it, and come back. I'll wait...)

Getting back on topic, Beneath These Fireworks is just a really great record with some brilliant writing.  The lyrics on this one hold out through the entire record.  There are no awkward moments, no times when you wonder if maybe he was at a loss.  Of course, I have yet to hear any of his songs that have questionable lyrics and that's not true for everyone, even some of my favorites (just wait until I review Save Me, San Fransisco *sob*).  Overall, this record isn't nearly as sad as Some Mad Hope.  Sure, the songs are all laden with emotion and some of them recount some apparently painful experiences, but is just more upbeat and less dreamy and melancholy.  I think maybe he sounds more angry or bitter on this one, which for me is always less tragic than the defeated sadness that permeates Some Mad Hope.

"Suspended", the second song on this record is my current favorite.  It's tough to pull just one line out of this song to illustrate it's awesomeness.  However, my personal favorite is: "With your breathing, filling up my lungs, I can almost believe, that I'm almost enough."  This song feels like an anthem for dead-end relationships.  One person isn't satisfied with the other but pretends to be.  So the other person, totally in love, clings to that pretense and just goes with it.  As a result, nobody goes anywhere and they end up...well...Suspended. 

In close competition for the title of My Current Favorite is "Pretty the World".  You've heard me praise this song before, I've even tweeted the accolades of this song.  It's just that good.  It's fast and peppy and with lines like, "And I'll lie, until I believe" it is too fun to sing in the car.  Plus, this song has a little bit of magic in it.  Technically, musically, I'm not sure what it does (I can read music and play piano some, but I don't really grasp things like chord/key changes and whatnot), but I do know that the verse dances around inside your head, then the chorus drops down into your chest and you can physically feel it.  The song is written in the key of magic.  My wish for you, is that you someday get to hear him play it live so you can really feel it.  Like so many of his songs, when performed live, you don't just hear them with your ears, you 'hear' them with your entire body.

"Curve of the Earth" follows "Pretty the World" and it stands right up to it.  "Tell me does he look like me at all? Cause they're all an awful lot like you."  What woman hasn't wanted to hear that from her ex?  To know that she affected his ass like that, to influence every future relationship.  Things quiet down then with "Bent", a heart breaker.  "You're so sorry about it all, now that it's over, should I thank you for that, Dear?"  He asks, basically, if I had done things differently, if I had done things the way you said to, would you have still destroyed me?  Which of course, she would have, but now she's sorry about it all so that's supposed to make it all better. 

This record explores relationships that have just gone wrong, for whatever reason.  Either party can be to blame, or maybe nobody is, maybe it's just the way life goes.  Sometimes relationships just crumble under the pressure of real life, such as in "Weight of It All":  "Show me where the sun comes through the sky, I'll show where the rain gets in and I'll show you hurricanes and the way that summer fades, underneath the weight of it all."  Or, as in "Bent", you just ended up involved with someone who has a habit of breaking people and there isn't shit you can do about it, "If I bent, like you said was best, would that change a thing?  If I spent myself till nothing's left, would you still leave me here?"  We know by now that Mr. Nathanson very rarely writes a song about a lovely, wonderful, healthy relationship.  Of course, those don't generally inspire the angst that breeds creativity.  (But if you have to have one, check out "Drop to Hold You" on Modern Love...just sayin'.)

Still, with all the pain and turmoil on this record, he manages to close it out with a happy little song that leaves a "sweet" taste in your mouth.  In "Sing Me Sweet", he has apparently found something great: "Say you'll never let me go, cause I've gone long enough, waiting for wonderful."  So once again, we're left hopeful, that true love is out there and maybe he has it.  Because when you listen to this record, all you hope is that someone has come into his life who makes it all ok.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Buy your music.

Here's one of many reasons you should buy your music.  The show we went to in Nashville, the tickets were $20 each.  The venue holds 1,000 people.  It was sold out, which is cool, but that's only $20,000 (assuming everyone in the place had paid for a ticket).  Ok, $20,000 - split between the openers and the headliner.  The venue isn't doing that shit for free.  They had to buy gas to drive there (or plane tickets and a cab), had to eat, pay for hotel rooms (especially that night since it was the last night of the tour and they had moved out of the bus).  Then there are roadies, crew members, accountants, attorneys, tour manager and god knows who else standing there with their hand out.  Sure, there was a merch table, but there were only 1,000 people - how much could they possibly buy??

So you wonder, how much could the headliner possibly have taken home?  There is not a percentage of $20,000 that is enough money to pay him for the magic he created that night, I'll tell you that.  And no one can (or should have to) play every night, 365 days a year.  These people deserve to spend time at home, they need time to create new music and to just chill. 

My point here is this, hearts and souls are poured into music.  The people who do it well (without auto-tune and lots of trickery) and who put a piece of themselves out there like that for us to take home with us and have forever deserve to get rich...or you know, at least make a lovely living...and that isn't going to happen if we're stealing the shit left and right like we're somehow entitled to it.  And besides, music is incredibly inexpensive, if you think about it.  An entire album on iTunes will only set you back $9.99.  Even an actual CD (with album art and all that) can be found for $12-$18.  And music isn't single-serving.  You own it.  You can listen to it, literally, hundreds of times, over and over for the rest of your life.  Music is forever.  What else can you pay so little for that will give you so much in return??  So show your favorite artists some appreciation and respect and pay them, just like you want to get paid for doing your job.

Ok, jumping down off my soap box now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"New" music, rant, dream job

I just snagged Violent Femmes' self-titled album this morning.  I felt all kinds of guilty about listening to 'Blister in the Sun' 50 times a day without owning the whole record.  So I bought it this morning.  Once I give it a few (hundred) good listens, I'll let you know what it does for me.

Which leads me to my mini-rant for today.  What the hell is up with iTunes?  Artists create albums, entire albums, and I assume they (usually) put a good deal of thought into the order of the songs.  Isn't an album supposed to be a thing unto itself?  Isn't the artist going, "Here, here are x number of songs, they go together, in this order, to tell a story, or create a feeling, or whatever"?  But does iTunes respect that?  (Besides the ability to buy one song at a time...which I abuse, I admit)  No, iTunes will download that shit ALL out of order!!  Then I have to go find a reputable source to find out the track list and put it all back the way it is supposed to be.  I suppose I could easily solve this problem by buying actual CD's, but you know as well as I do that the convenience and mass availability of music on iTunes is pretty sweet.  Besides, I do buy actual physical music, just on vinyl. 

So, because I can (because I'm not a total purist and who doesn't love a good mixed tape?  Even in digital form) I crafted myself a sweet ass Matt Nathanson/Violent Femmes play list.  So this makes me really, really, really want to see Violent Femmes take it back out on the road next summer and open for Matt Nathanson.  How fun would that show be??  So now, my new dream job is whatever job you have to have to make that shit happen. 

Sweet, sweet retro

I'm noticing a trend lately and I have to say I like it.  Usually, I run screaming from trends and fads because they tend to be short-lived and, frankly, stupid.  I did tag along on that freak folk thing that Mumford & Son are doing - I still dig it, actually.  But I'm not here to talk about that right now.

Right now, it's all retro, baby.  There have been several artists who I happen to love from way back that have released songs/albums lately that sound like, well, like themselves.  Here's the thing, I am all about artists evolving and growing and developing their sound.  I like to have multiple records from one artist that tell a story - that map the journey of their careers.  I'm into that.  I don't want the first record I have to sound exactly the same at the 3rd or 4th record (Matchbox Twenty...I'm talking to you), even if that sound is really good.  I want to hear a song and be able to tell which record it comes from, just by the way it sounds.  Like, "Oh yeah, that was his bluesy record, or that was when they experimented with a more techno sound." 

But, and this is a big but (I like and Sir Mix-a-Lot), they should not forget where they came from.  Even if they become hugely popular and can release total shit and people will still buy it (you know who you are...U2...Radiohead...Coldplay) they should not forget what it was that made people love them in the first place.  So sure, go ahead and change, evolve, experiment, I'm more than happy to go on that journey with you.  But at some point, please give me a little of what I fell in love with in the first place. Get back to your roots, so us that you still have that awesome in you...then go back to spreading your wings.

Here are some sweet examples of bands who have done just that:

Foo Fighters - 'Walk' (actually all of "Wasting Light" sounds more like the Foo Fighters than they have sounded in years...maybe ever, and this song is an excellent example of that)

Red Hot Chili Peppers - 'Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie' - with Anthony's lyrics and Flea getting down on that bass, this is very reminiscent of "Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik"

Blink 182 - "Up All Night" - I haven't heard this whole album, but this song manages to sound all ground up but with the same overall feeling that Blink has always had.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Violent Femmes - 'Blister in the Sun'

I have probably listened to this song 20 times since last night.  Seriously, if I abruptly disappear, it's most likely because I drove my car into a ditch while clapping out the drum parts. 

If you don't own this song.  Buy it.  Now.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fan...or Stalker?

My husband has (jokingly...I think) called me a stalker several times in the last couple weeks.  A lady that I was talking to at the show Saturday (and who, coincidentally, wanted ALL the information I knew about the artist in question) said that I was not a stalker, just a well-informed fan.  I like that take on it...but it is right?

In today's world, where do we draw the line?  In a world of twitter, facebook, blogs, tout, etc...when is it too much?  As fans, we have all this access to celebrities that it makes us think we know them.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that we don't.  Not at all.  We only get what they want us to have (or that's all we should be getting), is that what they're really like?  In private?  When the stage lights go out and the microphones are turned off.  We have no way of knowing...just like they don't know us.  The world today, while it seems more connected and personal is actually more anonymous than it has ever been.  Somehow we are simultaneously more in each other's business and more disconnected than ever before.

But still, between Google and YouTube and all this crap, you can freely watch your favorite artists doing hundreds of interviews (assuming that you, unlike me, have high speed internet at your house).  I am a victim of this.  I will google the shit out of people and watch interviews (at work, like normal people) and read articles about them to no end.  I will absorb every detail I can get my little hands on.  Sometimes this affects how I feel about their music.  Don't get me wrong, a charming personality cannot make me like bad music, but if you act like a dick, there's a pretty good chance I won't give your music a fair shake.  The reason that is monumentally unfair is because an interview is not always a fair representation of a person (although, if yo act like a jerk in 10 of them...chances are...).  It could have been a bad day, maybe the interviewER was a dick, maybe it was edited weird.  Who knows.

My current favorite part of this overload of information is getting to see artists off stage.  It is especially cool when they just act like normal people, like someone you can see just having a normal conversation with, being friends with.  That is even more remarkable when you have seen them on stage and they have created magic.  It's like a comic book character's secret identity or something.  But that's also where it gets weird.  Rock stars didn't used to be people that you could be friends with because we very rarely ever saw them being people.  We only saw the guy on stage or in the video - the caped super hero.  The Clark Kent side never came out, they got to hide that part of themselves if they so chose.

So, where does all that rambling leave us?  Where do we draw the line between just interested in someone and stalking them?  (Not in that "hiding in the bushes outside their house" kind of way...but I think you know what I mean.)  It sure doesn't seem creepy when the information is so easily available.  But is it fair?  How weird it must be to do a meet and greet after a show when people come up and call you by your first name like you're friends, and they know where you grew up, where you went to school, who you're married to (or dating), they know so much about you besides just your music...and yet you know nothing about them.  It has almost flipped things around - the celebrities are all exposed and now the fans are the ones shrouded in mystery. 

I think if we want to watch interviews, read articles, whatever, that's cool.  But at the same time, we should understand that the important part is the music.  With all the information available, sometimes it's hard to focus on that.  These are real people, pouring their hearts and souls into this 'product' so that it can pour into our hearts and souls.  We should respect them as such, and remember that we're not friends, we're fans...there is a big difference. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Matt Nathanson - 11/05/2011

Artist: Matt Nathanson
Venue: Cannery Ballroom, Nashville, TN
Date: November 5, 2011

Saturday, my husband and I went to Nashville, TN to see Matt Nathanson perform at The Cannery Ballroom.  The Cannery Ballroom is a standing room only venue that holds 1,000 people, so this promised to be an awesome show.  We got there about an hour before the doors opened and there was already quite a line forming, but once some people wandered to the merch table and others congregated at the bar, we ended up about 5 people back from the stage.  We could literally see the whites of their eyes.  Sweet.

(Picture from Google Images)
The opening band was Scars on 45.  They are a bunch of kids (seriously, there are like 6 of them...I wondered for a second if we had wandered into a George Clinton show) from England.  I had never heard of them before I found out they would be playing that night, so I wasn't familiar with their songs.  (You won't want to miss their first EP and you really don't want to miss the second one!) There are 2 singers, a man and a woman.  The woman, Aimee, I believe, seems to have a more outgoing personality and did the majority of the talking.  I thought they did a good set, they were into it (especially the keyboard player!!) and they seemed to have a good time.  I felt kind of sorry for them because it was clear that nobody really knew them, but I thought the crowd responded to them nicely.  When they performed 'Heart on Fire', their new single, he sang that thing like he really meant it and that was cool.

After their set, while we had some time to just stand around and sweat, it dawned on me that it was unbelievably fucking hot in there and also, if the place caught on fire, we were screwed.  Being rather claustrophobic, I chose to just talk to the woman next to me (a very friendly lady from Nashville) and focus on making sure my view of the microphone didn't get blocked.  That takes a lot of work when you're standing with 999 of your closest friends and they ALL want to make sure their view of the microphone isn't blocked.  But I was successful and had a clear, unobstructed view of Mr. Nathanson throughout the entire show.  In fact, I was right in front of him, so it was easy to forget all about the other people in the room and just enjoy.

When I first pondered this post, I thought I'd go through the whole set list, but I see now that if I did that, this post would be five miles long.  Also, it would take me the rest of the year to write it.  So I'm just going to hit the high points.  First of all, here's the set list (as best I can remember...I may have a couple things out of order and I know I'm missing a couple covers that he dropped in the middle of his songs, but you'll get the idea):

Dog Days Are Over (Florence + the Machine) led into Pretty the World
Modern Love (I have a little video of this...I'll post it soon)
Bottom of the Sea
Queen of (K)nots
To the Beat of Our Noisy Hearts
Kiss Quick
The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel)
I Saw
Room @ the End of the World
Detroit Waves
Drop to Hold You
Come On Get Higher
Car Crash (interspersed with CeeLo Green's 'Fuck You')
I Fought the Law (The Clash)
All We Are
*(He also covered the Violent Femmes 'Blister in the Sun' because the crowd coaxed him into it, but for the life of me, I can't remember where it was in the set list)

If you're looking at that set list and thinking it is long and I must be  He played for the better part of 2 hours.  Which is really remarkable because given the heat out in the crowd, I can't fathom how hot it must have been up there under those stage lights.  Also, it was the last show of this leg of the "All Night Noise" tour, but he gave us energy like it was the first show.  For me, even after standing (in line, while waiting, during the opening act, during intermission...for hours is my point) the set still flew by in a blur.  Who knew 2 hours could pass that quickly??  I guess it's true what they say about time and having fun.
(This pic is not from Nashville - I snagged it off Google, I don't own it - as far as I'm concerned, M.N. owns it since it's a pic of him.)

First, he came out to Superman's theme music, so you immediately have to love that, then they opened with 'Mercy' - just as I hoped!  When he performs that song live, it just jumps inside you and takes control.  Next, he takes Florence + the Machine's (yuck) song 'Dog Days Are Over', makes it something you actually want to listen to and then morphs it into 'Pretty the World'.  When this song drops into the chorus, the world seems like a better place.  But when he plays this thing live and it drops into the chorus, the world actually becomes a better place.  How can you not physically react to this song?  Not possible.

My next favorite moment was 'Bottom of the Sea', because I love the shit out of that song and it was so much fun to watch them play it and to sing it back to him (even if he did hesitate before "sea" and make us all sound like snakes).  At some point, he played the opening to 'Blister in the Sun' by Violent Femmes.  The crowd went nuts and begged him to play the whole song.  He claimed that they didn't play it well (not true) and that we'd have to sing along and help them out.  After promising they would, it turned out that the crowd didn't know that song all that well, but those of us that did sang the crap out of it and Matt and the band did a great job with it.  I'm not sure they thought so, but it was a great time and we sure didn't notice whatever they thought was less than perfect.

By far, my favorite thing about this whole show was 'Kiss Quick'.  Good grief, I had no idea how mind blowing that song is until I heard it live.  It was...I don't even have words for it.  His voice, his delivery (all that intentional know my weakness for that), the way the music dripped into my head and just held me in its grip.  The people around me, the heat, me aching all just melted away and I was just held there - suspended (if you will) in the magic of that song.  It killed me, it absolutely killed me.

After that (I think), he and Aaron covered 'The Boxer' by Simon & Garfunkel.  I hesitate to say they out-Simon & Garfunkeled the original...cause come on, be for real, but they did an excellent job with it. 

I also have to mention 'Drop to Hold You'.  Another song that is at another level live.  If you were there with your someone (as I was), it was all that much better.  "You came round, to save me, and I drop, to hold you".  It is a huge song, it swells and undulates and takes over the room.  He released us back into the world with 'All We Are' ringing in our ears.  "All we are, we are.  All we are, we are.  And everyday's the start of something beautiful, beautiful." 

This show was 2 hours of absolute escape from every unpleasant thing in the world - a week in New Orleans didn't even do that for me!  Throughout the entire show, pretty much every song was like, "Oh my god, I can't believe he's going to play this one too...YAY!!"  I know I didn't mention every song he played, but trust me, they were all amazing. (Also, the hair was epic.)  Do yourself a couple favors...go out and buy all of his CD's (ok, maybe that's a little cost least get the last 4 or 5) so you'll know the words, then go see him in concert, you will not regret it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Up Next

This Saturday my (wonderful) Husband is taking me to Nashville - a mere 3 hour drive - to see Matt Nathanson at the Cannery Ballroom.  To say I am excited about this show would be a gross understatement.  As you know, I saw him at the state fair back in August when he opened for Train and Maroon 5.  He is headlining this show, which is awesome.  It is the last stop on the All Night Noise tour; hopefully we'll be a good enough crowd to end the tour on a high note.  When we get back, I'll let you know how it went. 

Alanis Morissette "Jagged Little Pill"

Album: Jagged Little Pill
Artist: Alanis Morissette
Release: June 13, 1995

I bought this record when it was pretty new in the summer of 1995 when I was 17 and every bit as angry and dysfunctional as Alanis must have been when she wrote these songs.  That winter, I wore this album out in my car to the point that I still feel cold when I listen to it.  I have a couple more of hers, after she chilled out a bit, but I have to say that I really prefer the angry-Alanis of the mid-90's.  What I like best is that she was able to articulate every bit of bad blood and her vocals did not let her down in expressing how she felt. 

It starts with a harmonica followed by a riff on 'All I Really Want'.  The first line being, "Do I stress you out? My sweater is on backwards and inside out and you say, how appropriate."  I knew right then that I was going to love this record.  This song is heavy with harmonica which is unusual, to say the least.  But somehow it works - don't ask me, I can't explain it.  Everyone has heard 'You Oughta Know' - they've played the shit out of it on the radio for the last 16 years.  It's a good song.  I like a song with a story and this one definitely has one.  I also like a song that is wrought with raw emotion and this one hits the mark there too (also, it was a chance to sing "when you fuck her" at the top of my lungs and those chances were rare among my CD collection in 1995.)  A woman of any age is going to appreciate a song that laments the way a man seems to be able to move on from a relationship without looking back while the woman is left holding all the emotional baggage.  (To be clear, not all men, not all the time, but this is how a heartbroken woman sees it.)

Next is the quiet, heartbreaking 'Perfect'.  This song explores the experience of kids who are made to feel that nothing they do is ever quite good enough.  To the point that maybe even perfection wouldn't be enough.  This one struck a chord in me that makes it tough to hear to this very day.  'Hand in My Pocket' is a song you can relate to and its catchy.  With lines like, "and what it all comes down to, is that it everything's gonna be quite alright", it makes us think that under all that anger, maybe Alanis has hope.  Maybe.  Then she turns around and stabs misogynistic society in the gut with 'Right Through You'.  Surely every woman knows what it feels like to be overlooked or underestimated simply because she is female.  This song is flat out pissed off about that.  While I am absolutely not a feminist, I still enjoy the sentiment of this song.

My absolute favorite song on this record is 'Not the Doctor'.  It's kind of quirky and strange sounding, but when I first heard it, it was a perfect fit.  I was in that stage of life when the lists in your head are all of the things you will not do for people and who you do not want to be, rather than what you are or what you can offer.  Because at 17, who knows what they are?  So a song listing all the things that this woman is not and does not want to be for a man was a perfect.  She follows it up with 'Wake Up', which is another good one. 

Overall, after listening to this record a couple times, I've realized that I don't love it nearly like I did when I was 17.  It takes me back to that time, it brings back a lot of memories and dredges up a lot of emotion - which is cool.  But my life is pretty far removed from what it was when I was 17 and I just don't relate to a lot of it the way I used to.  But I still blow the dust off this one occasionally and take it for a stroll down memory lane.